A Historic Family, A Historic Collection

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The Hill-Trevor family were at the heart of 17th- and 18th-century British and Irish politics, and they used the wealth that this position provided to assemble an extraordinary collection of fine furniture, silver and works of art, many of which feature in the upcoming Of Royal and Noble Descent sale in London on 19 January. Collected over the course of 200 years, these exceptional pieces were housed in the family’s homes: Brynkinalt Hall in Wales, Belvoir Park in Ireland, and 3 Grafton Street in London. Click ahead to discover the stories of four generations of the family through the furniture and art they collected and commissioned.

Of Royal & Noble Descent
19 January 2017 | London

A Historic Family, A Historic Collection

  • A William III Chinese lacquer and japanned bureau, late 17th/ early 18th century. Estimate: £8,000–12,000.
    This bureau was most probably acquired by the first collector Sir John Trevor for the family home, Brynkinalt Hall in Denbighshire. A clever if slightly slippery figure, Sir John served as both Master of the Rolls and Speaker of the House of Commons (before being unceremoniously dismissed from the latter position in 1695 for accepting a bribe). Nevertheless, the financial gains he made established the family in London society and allowed him to indulge in the latest fashions in furniture and decorative art.

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  • One of three pairs of Queen Anne walnut and marquetry side chairs, circa 1705, attributed to Thomas or Richard Roberts.
    Estimate: £40,000–60,000.
    This exceptional and rare suite of furniture , a superb example of the early 18th-century cabinet-makers’ craft, was probably commissioned by Sir John Trevor from Royal chair-makers, Thomas Roberts and his son and successor Richard. Given his political role and his status at Court, Sir John would certainly have been aware of the latest fashions and would have been in a position to commission work from these sought-after craftsmen.

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  • A rare set of eight George I walnut dining chairs, probably Irish, circa 1720. Estimate: £50,000–80,000.
    The second collector is Arthur Hill, second son of Sir John Trevor’s daughter Anne. Like his grandfather before him he pursued a career in politics, but in Ireland rather than England. He served as both Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer and Commissioner for Irish Revenues, and was enobled as Viscount Dungannon in 1766. He also continued his grandfather’s work, enriching the family collection throughout the late 18th century. One such acquisition is this beautiful set of dining chairs , very rare examples of early Georgian seat furniture.

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  • A George II silver-gilt inkstand, David Willaume, London, 1730.
    Estimate: £10,000–15,000.
    In the 1750s Lord Dungannon built a house outside Belfast to the design of Christopher Myers, called Belvoir. The house was mostly furnished anew and a significant portion of the 18th-century English furniture and Irish silver in this sale, including this beautiful silver-gilt inkstand , is likely to have been commissioned for Belvoir.

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  • A small George III harewood Pembroke table with Gujarati mother-of-pearl panels, the table, circa 1780; the panels, 17th century.
    Estimate: £8,000–12,000.
    The 1st Viscount’s son sadly pre-deceased him, so the title and estates passed to his eight-year-old grandson Arthur, who eventually continued the work of expanding the family collection. He was joined in this endeavour by his highly cultivated wife, the Hon Charlotte Fitzroy, daughter of Lord Southampton and granddaughter of the Duke of Grafton. Among the items acquired by the young Dungannons was this very rare 17th-century adapted Guajarati mother of pearl table .

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  • A William IV rosewood games table, circa 1835. Estimate: £2,500–4,000.
    Lady Dungannon energetically set about updating and extending Brynkinalt Hall, which had remained almost unchanged since the early 18th century. Her accomplishments include architectural changes to various rooms that showed great respect for her new home. In addition to these structural alterations, she purchased particularly handsome and often unusual pieces of furniture in exotic woods, including this William IV games table which pairs exotic timbers with colourful hardstones.

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  • A Transitional gilt-bronze mounted tulipwood and fruitwood marquetry petit-commode by Guillaume Kemp, circa 1770. Estimate: £6,000–9,000.
    This French side table is of excellent quality and was purchased by the final collector, another Arthur Hill-Trevor, who inherited both his father’s titles and estates, but also his mother’s passion for the arts. He made the Grand Tour in the late 1810s and actually married his wife Sophia Irvine at Leghorn (now Livorno in Tuscany) in 1819. He was elected to the Society of Antiquaries in 1830.

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  • A Louis XVI gilt-bronze mounted amaranth, tulipwood, kingwood and holly banded table à ouvrage circa 1775, in the manner of Pierre Montigny. Estimate: £20,000–30,000.
    The 3rd Viscount and his wife appear to have been heavily influenced in their collecting by the infectious Francophilia which swept England during the second quarter of the 19th century. This led to the acquisition of a group of 18th-century French furniture for their London house on Grafton Street, which included this exceptional work table in the manner of Montigny.

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